Chase County Country Christmas returned with gusto last week, with two days full of music, entertainment and holiday shopping.

The event, recently rated as No. 6 of TravelKS.com’s Top 10 Holiday Events in Kansas, was truly a county-wide event. Activities began Friday evening with the Kids’ Night Before Christmas at the 1900 Theater in Strong City. The evening concluded with holiday songs and the lighting of the Caboose at the Strong City Depot.

Activities continued Saturday morning with breakfast at Bulldoggers Diner and a host of activities around the county.

Chase County Chamber of Commerce director Toni Schneider said it was exciting to welcome people back for the popular event this year after COVID-19 forced its cancellation in 2020.

“It was really great that I was able to tell people when they called about Country Christmas, that yes, it’s back and it’s bigger and better than ever,” she said.

The arts and craft fair, held at the St. Anthony’s Catholic Church Hall each year, was expanded with more vendors and crafters thanks to the completion of the church’s new parish building.

“The arts and crafts fair was always held in the smaller St. Anthony’s Hall, so that was able to be expanded this year,” Schneider said.

The chamber was happy to welcome some new activities to the mix, like the Chase County Old School Development District’s Tables and Trees event at the Cottonwood Falls Grade School. Held last year on an appointment-only basis, the organization was able to be part of Country Christmas for the first time.

Community members were invited to view the 13 indoor holiday displays designed by local individuals, groups and businesses and tour the school building. The concession stand offered homemade bierocks and walking tacos, as well as several holiday-themed adult beverages.

“We weren’t able to have a concession stand last year and to be a part of Country Christmas is wonderful,” said CCOSDD board member Lee Anne Coester. “I feel like we’re back.”

Coester said the group was raising money toward a new heating and air conditioning system for the school building. After several other successful fundraisers over the past few months, she was hopeful Tables and Trees would put them over the edge.

They are also working on some grants for equipment, such as pickleball nets and paddles, so that the gymnasium can be used for different types of events.

Country Christmas concluded Saturday evening with the lighting of the historic Chase County Courthouse and the parade, which escorted Santa Claus down Broadway Street on his way to the North Pole.

“That’s always a big draw,” Schneider said. “When the courthouse is lit, it’s super cool. You literally can see it from miles away.”

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